The Supreme Court Could Soon Make Life Harder for Pregnant Women

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - 6 hours 50 min ago
Tom SpiggleThe Huffington PostNovember 24, 2014View the original piece

This holiday season, when you pick up another box of heavy gifts left at your doorway by a delivery person, ask yourself: Should a pregnant woman lift this?

The Supreme Court will be asking itself a related question in early December when it considers the biggest test of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act in a generation.

Click here to read more at The Huffington Post.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Whole Foods Concedes To IWW Demands To Increase Wages!

IWW - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 15:15

Update: Join Whole Foods Workers for a 24 Hour Picket at Whole Foods' Northern California Distribution Center This Weekend! Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/517441525025495/

Whole Foods Union Wins Raise for San Francisco Stores’ Lowest-Paid Employees

By Tim Maher - Whole Foods Workers Union, November 14, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A fledgling union of workers at the South of Market Whole Foods in San Francisco used workplace actions to compel Whole Foods management to implement a $1.25 per hour wage increase for those employees at the lowest wage tier.

read more

Categories: Unions

Long-time Hoffa Rep and his Enforcer Convicted of Racketeering

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:03

November 20, 2014: A jury in Boston yesterday convicted a former member of the Hoffa administration of racketeering and extortion. His “enforcer” was convicted also, and both will be sentenced to a federal prison term in February.

John Perry, who was Hoffa’s Trade Show National Director until the IRB removed him from the union, was convicted of multiple counts, along with Joseph “Jo Jo” Burhoe, Perry’s enforcer.

Perry’s power was maintained by intimidation of members and job-rigging for his political pals. Those crimes stole money from hard working Teamsters and weakened our union.

Perry rigged hiring to get his friends and family work and punish any outspoken members

TDU members and other concerned trade show Teamsters took a stand against Perry, who headed Boston Local 82, and fought for democratic reforms and against sweetheart contracts in their union ratified by phony votes. Perry and Burhoe responded with intimidation and violence, sending one member to the hospital. Members appealed to Hoffa for help, but he replied that he would do nothing about his appointee’s corruption and violence. That struggle is reported here.   

In the recent trial, International vice president John Murphy testified that his office was in the same building as Perry’s office, and he kept Hoffa informed on a regular basis of the activity in Perry’s Local 82.

Yet Hoffa kept Perry in power.

In May 2011, TDU members’actions led the Independent Review Board (IRB) to throw Perry and Burhoe out of the Teamsters, after Hoffa tried to cover it up.

Burhoe then went to work for management. And Hoffa merged Local 82 into Local 25. 

Perry and Burhoe were convicted yesterday after a seven-week trial.

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

2 ex-Teamsters convicted of racketeering

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:44
Milton J. ValenciaThe Boston GlobeNovember 20, 2014View the original piece

Two former Teamsters union members were convicted Wednesday in US District Court in Boston of racketeering — for using violence and threats of violence to win jobs and elections for union office.

Joseph Burhoe, 46, a former Teamsters member with a criminal history, and John Perry, 62, the former head of a local chapter, were convicted of multiple charges, including racketeering, conspiracy, conspiracy to extort businesses, and extortion. Both will be sentenced in late February.

Click here to read more at The Boston Globe.

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

FedEx Freight Workers Vote for Teamsters at N.C. Terminal; Union Calls Off N.J. Election

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 10:09
Michael G. MalloyTransport TopicsNovember 20, 2014View the original piece

Workers at a FedEx Freight terminal in Charlotte, North Carolina, voted to be represented by the Teamsters union, while Teamsters withdrew a petition for an election at FedEx Freight’s terminal in South Newark, New Jersey.

“The union would only take this step if it anticipated losing the election,” FedEx Freight said of the New Jersey vote withdrawal.

FedEx Freight said it may appeal the Nov. 19 Charlotte vote. The Teamsters said that vote affects 222 drivers at the terminal. Neither the company nor the union disclosed the vote tally.

“No other drivers at our more than 360 service centers are impacted by this vote,” FedEx Freight said in a statement. “It remains business as usual at FedEx Freight. and our nationwide network won’t miss a beat.”

Earlier this month, FedEx Freight workers at a Newark, New Jersey, terminal rejected joining the Teamsters, as did workers at a Con-way Freight facility in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Over the past two months of stepped-up Teamsters organizing activity, Con-way and FedEx have won some contests, and the union has prevailed in other representation votes.

FedEx Freight is part of FedEx Corp., which ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Long-time Hoffa Rep and his Enforcer Convicted of Racketeering

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 08:36

November 20, 2014: A jury in Boston yesterday convicted a former member of the Hoffa administration of racketeering and extortion. His “enforcer” was convicted also, and both will be sentenced to a federal prison term in February.

John Perry, who was Hoffa’s Trade Show National Director until the IRB and the feds removed Perry from the union, was convicted of multiple counts, along with Joseph “Jo Jo” Burhoe, Perry’s enforcer.

TDU members and other concerned trade show Teamsters, took a stand against Perry, who headed Boston Local 82, and fought for democratic reforms and against sweetheart contracts in their union ratified by phony votes. Perry and Burhoe responded with intimidation and violence, sending one member to the hospital. Members appealed to Hoffa for help, but he replied that he would do nothing about his appointee’s corruption and violence. That struggle is reported here.   

In May 2011, TDU members’actions led the Independent Review Board (IRB) to throw Perry and Burhoe out of the Teamsters, after Hoffa tried to cover it up.

Burhoe then went to work for management. Hoffa then merged Local 82 into Local 25. 

Perry and Burhoe were convicted yesterday after a seven-week trial.

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Charlotte FedEx Freight Votes Teamster

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 08:19

November 20, 2014: The 222 city and road drivers at the big Charlotte terminal voted Yes for the Teamsters Union in an NLRB election. It’s the largest union win at FedEx Freight to date, and brings the number of Teamster-represented FedEx Freight workers to about 400.

Congratulations to the FedEx Freight brothers and sisters, and to Local 71.

The IBT press release on the vote is here.



Issues: Labor MovementFreight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

The truth about multiemployer plans

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 07:47
Nick ThorntonBenefits ProNovember 20, 2014View the original piece

Could it be that the vast majority of the country’s multiemployer pension plans are in fine shape? 

The headlines around multiemployer plans this year have not been pretty, so it’s easy to assume they’re all in trouble.

Click here to read more at Benefits Pro.

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

$15 an Hour and Full-Time

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:47

November 19, 2014: Walmart workers are planning protests, sit-ins and strikes at stores across the country on Black Friday.

Protests against low-wages, lack of full-time jobs, inadequate and expensive healthcare, and disrespect from management will take place at 1,600 locations nationwide on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Walmart employs more than 1.4 million workers—who they term “associates”—making it the largest employer in the country. “Associates” make on average just $8.81 an hour.

Walmart workers need allies to show their support—click here to find a Black Friday action to join up with.

And click here to hear stories from Walmart workers and learn more about what they’re fighting for.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

Don't mourn, ORGANIZE!

IWW - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:45

On this day, Nov. 19, 1915, Joe Hill was murdered by the State of Utah.

A songwriter, itinerant laborer, and union organizer, Joe Hill became famous around the world after a Utah court convicted him of murder. Even before the international campaign to have his conviction reversed, however, Joe Hill was well known on picket lines and at workers’ rallies as the author of popular labor songs and as an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) agitator. Thanks in large part to his songs and to his stirring, well—publicized call to his fellow workers on the eve of his execution—”Don’t waste time mourning, organize!”—Hill became, and he has remained, the best—known IWW martyr and labor folk hero.

read more

Categories: Unions

Truckers Stranded in New York Storm Along Thruway

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:10
Michele FuetschTransport TopicsNovember 19, 2014View the original piece

Record-breaking snowfall and winds have stranded truckers and other travelers on a 132-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway that’s been shut down for nearly two days.

“It’s bad; it’s definitely an emergency situation out there,” said Kendra Hems, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association.

“I don’t know what the exact number is, but they have vehicles that are basically buried, both cars and trucks,” Hems said. “And it’s not just the Thruway. It’s other roads in the area.”

Cars and trucks are stranded on shoulders, in highway lanes and on access and exit ramps, she said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard is helping clear snow and rescue stranded motorists.

“They’re running against time, though, because there’s another storm system coming through that could dump another 2 to 3 inches of snow,” Hems said.

Tandem trucks were ordered off at about 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, and within two hours, the stretch of the highway running east-west through Buffalo into Pennsylvania was closed, she added.

Right now, the most important task is to rescue stranded motorists and get vehicles off the roads so they can be reopened, Hems said.

“I think their decision to shut the road was made in a fairly timely fashion based on the information they were given,” she added. “I think where the questions are going to be and what needs to be discussed to hopefully prevent this in the future is ‘OK, well, now you’ve shut the road down, what do we do about getting everybody off it and where do you put everybody that’s trying to get on it?’ ”


Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Defend Teamster Jobs at Sysco-US Foods

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:17

November 19, 2014: Teamsters spoke out at the annual shareholders meeting of Sysco to defend Teamster jobs and contracts in the face of the proposed merger of Sysco and US Foods.

Last December, Sysco announced it would buy its competitor US Foods for $8.2 billion. Both companies sell food products to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and schools.

More than 7,600 Teamsters work at Sysco and another 4,000 Teamsters work as US Foods.

The proposed deal threatens as many as 2,500 Teamster jobs. Sysco management says it will save $600 million over the next four years. The threat is those savings will come at the expense of Teamster job loss as the company consolidates its operations.

Sysco has not agreed to honor Teamster contracts if the deal goes through.  

The Federal Trade Commission has not approved the purchase. Sysco has twice announced delays in closing the deal since it was announced in December 2013.

A merged Sysco-US Foods would control 25 percent of the market. The danger for customers is if there are few other options, Sysco will be able to raise prices. 

In other news, Teamsters Local 848 is threatening Sysco Foods with strike action and launching a customer outreach campaign. The company is demanding healthcare cuts and to put half of all drivers on four ten-hour schedules.   

Issues: Warehouse Newswire
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Electronic log rule is a year away

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 07:01
Eric MillerTransport TopicsNovember 19, 2014View the original piece

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not expect to publish its final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices for carriers until Sept. 30, 2015, the agency said in its November significant rulemakings report.

The rule would not be effective until two years after it is finalized.

Other regulatory projections affecting truckers:

• The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it will send its heavy-duty truck speed-limiters proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget next month, and publish the rule March 16, 2015. 

• FMCSA plans to send its carrier safety fitness determination rule to OMB in late December and publish its proposed rule April 2, 2015. The rule would replace the current SafeStat system using Compliance, Safety, Accountability data to rate carriers as satisfactory, conditional or unsatisfactory.

• FMCSA left unchanged its plan to publish an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking this month that will explore whether to raise the current $750,000 insurance minimum for carriers. The ANPRM will seek comments from carriers to assist the agency in deciding whether to move forward with a proposed rule.

• FMCSA expects to issue its final drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule Oct. 30, 2015, and a final rule prohibiting the coercion of drivers by carriers and brokers on Sept. 10, 2015.

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Most Big LTLs make Big Profits

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 06:59
SCDigest Editorial StaffSupply Chain DigestNovember 19, 2014View the original piece

We're finishing up this week SCDigest's regularly quarterly review of the results and comments from leading transportation carriers by mode, this week for the less-than-truckload carriers, as the last of them finished up their Q3 2014 earnings reports in the last few weeks.

Last week, we covered the US rail carriers (see Rail Carriers Enjoy Mostly Blow Out Q3 on Strong Volume Growth) and the week before the truckload sector (see Q3 2014 Truckload Carrier Review and Comment).

Click here to read more.

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Stop Congress from Cutting Retirees' Hard Earned Pensions

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:08

November 18, 2014: Unless we act now, Congress may end up cutting a legislative deal by year’s-end to allow pension plan trustees to slash the already-earned benefits of retirees as a purported way of saving deeply-troubled multiemployer plans.

This would be a radical departure from the federal pension law and it would wipe out the anti-cutback rule which states unequivocally that once a retiree starts receiving a pension – it cannot be taken away unless a plan becomes insolvent. 

It is outrageous for Congress to contemplate allowing cuts in retirees’ benefits as a way of staving off insolvency, without exploring other options to preserve hard-earned pensions.

We all care deeply about the health of our pension plans, but we do not think that they should be allowed to balance their books on the backs of retirees who are most vulnerable.

Say no to retiree benefit cuts. Tell Congress there are other alternatives that must be explored to save multiemployer plans.

Tell Congress no backroom deals.

You can help by contacting your Senators and Congressional Representative in your state and Congressional district. You can also contact their Washington office. The Capitol Hill switchboard is (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative.

Take Action. Have you signed the Protect Our Pensions petition yet? Click here.


Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

IWW Greece Solidarity With Prisoner On Hunger Strike

IWW - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 16:27

On Nov. 10, 2014, anarchist prisoner Nikos Romanos began a hunger strike laying claim to educational passes from prison, in order to be able to take classes in the university that he has succeeded to enroll.

His application to the Prison Council - that is formed by attorney general Nikolaos Poimenidis, headmistress Charalambia Koutsomichali as well as the social worker - still remain unanswered, while the appealing interrogator Eftichis Nikolopoulos, who has been claiming up to today not to be tasked with this matter, has sent a document to the Council, reporting that the application for administration of educational passes from prison has been denied.

Iraklis Kwstaris that has begun a hunger strike on the 29th of October for being given his educational passes from prison to take classes at his university TEI of Piraeus, is receiving the same denying documents from the Council.

read more

Categories: Unions

Louisville UPS pilots taking complaints to company's investors

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 09:50
Gil CorseyWDRB.comNovember 14, 2014View the original piece

Louisville UPS pilots are taking their complaints to the company's investors. 

The company's pilots placed a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal Thursday, pushing for a new contract.

Click here to read more at WDRB.com

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Teamster Power in a Global Economy

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:38

November 13, 2014: UPS is growing fast internationally and so is the middle class. How do we build union power in a global economy?

UPS’s business is driven by middle-class consumers sending packages and buying products online.

While UPS’s middle-class customer base is expected to grow rapidly through 2030, only a small amount of growth will come from the US.

Most of the growth in the global middle class is expected in Asia, especially China, and India.

Teamsters are still the engine of UPS’s revenue and profits. We’ve generated 61% of UPS’s revenue so far this year—and UPS Freight Teamsters piled more revenue on top of that.

Teamsters will continue to be central to the company’s operations and profits—but UPS has a long-term plan and we need one too in a global economy. We’ve got to build global union ties and global labor solidarity for union power in the long run. 

UPS has a long-term plan. Our union needs one too. The time to start is now.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Recyclers score two victories with support from ILWU & community

ILWU - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:34

During the final days of October, two groups of Northern California recycling workers decided that they would no longer tolerate indignities and discrimination from their employers. One group voted overwhelmingly to join the ILWU. Another group – already members of ILWU Local 6 – walked off their jobs for a week-long strike.

Striking for respect

“They think we’re insignificant people,” declared striker Dinora Jordan on the picket line. “They don’t think we count and don’t value our work. But we’re the ones who find dead animals on the conveyor belts. All the time we have to watch for hypodermic needles. If they don’t learn to respect us now, they never will.”

Big profits at WM

Jordan’s employer is Waste Management of Alameda County whose parent, Waste Management, Inc. (WM), is a giant corporation that handles garbage and recycling throughout North America. In just the second quarter of 2014, WM generated $3.56 billion in revenue and $210 million in profit, “an improvement in both our net cash provided by operations and our free cash flow,” according to CEO David P. Steiner.

Millions for the CEO

Shareholders received a 35 cent per share quarterly dividend, and the company used $600 million of its cash in a massive share buyback program. Two years ago, Steiner was given 135,509 shares (worth $6.5 million) for a performance bonus.

Years with no contract

But at WM’s facility in San Leandro, California, the company was unwilling to reach a fair contract with Local 6 for three years.

On October 23, members of the union Negotiating Committee returned to the facility after another fruitless session. They called workers, including Jordan, together to offer a report on the progress in bargaining, a standard practice for the recyclers at Local 6.

Sparking the strike

One supervisor agreed to the shop floor meeting, but another would not. The workers met anyway. Then the second supervisor told the vast majority of workers that they were being disciplined and to clockout, go home, and lose pay for the rest of the day. The same supervisor allowed a few hand-picked workers to remain on the job in order to run the facility.

“That’s when we finally said ‘Enough!’” Jordan explains. “As a union, we support each other. If some of us can’t work, then none of us will.”

Workers decided to walk out together, and immediately met at the union hall where 98% voted to strike WM in a spirited action that continued for a week.

“By standing together on the picket line, these courageous workers showed all of us how to win with solidarity– even when some officials from other unions seemed more comfortable standing with management. The kind of unity and determination shown by recyclers is exactly what it takes to win against powerful employers in Alameda County – and all along the West Coast.”

–ILWU International President Bob McEllrath

Another vote nearby

At another facility in the same city, workers at Alameda County Industries (ACI) were equally angry. At the end of a late night vote count in a cavernous sorting bay, surrounded by bales of recycled paper and plastic, agents of the National Labor Relations Board unfolded the ballots in a union representation election.

Workers want ILWU

When they announced that 83 percent had been cast for Local 6, workers began shouting “¡Viva La Union!” and dancing down along a row of lockers.

Dirty & dangerous

Sorting trash is dangerous and dirty work. In 2012, two East Bay workers were killed in recycling facilities. With some notable exceptions, putting your hands into fast moving conveyor belts filled with cardboard and cans does not pay well – much less, for instance, than the jobs of the drivers who pick up the containers at the curb. And in the Bay Area, sorting recyclables is done largely by workers of color – many of whom are women – mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America and African Americans.

Workers rise-up

This spring, recycling workers at Alameda County Industries began challenging their second-class status, poor working conditions and “permatemp” status. Not only did they become activists in a growing movement throughout the East Bay, but their protests galvanized public action to stop the firings of undocumented workers.

Private contractors

Garbage trucks driven by Teamsters carrying recycled trash arrive every minute at the ACI facility, dumping their fragrant loads gathered on routes in Livermore, Alameda, Dublin and San Leandro. These cities contract with the private firm to process their recyclables. In the Bay Area, only one city, Berkeley, picks up its own garbage.

All the rest hold contracts with private companies; even Berkeley contracts recycling to an independent sorter.


But ACI went even further by using a temp agency, Select Staffing, to employ workers for their recycling operation. The outsourcing scheme left workers with fewer rights on the job, no health insurance, retirement, vacations or holidays. Wages are also very low. Even after a raise two years ago, sorters are paid only $9.00 per hour with no benefits except for a few days off each year.

Illegal wages

Last year, workers discovered that their wages were illegally low. San Leandro passed a Living Wage Ordinance in 2007, mandating pay (in 2014) of $14.57 per hour or $13.07 with health benefits. Last fall, some of the workers on the lines received leaflets advertising a health and safety training for recycling workers put on by Local 6. They decided to attend in order to protect themselves from hazards at work.

The union’s organizing director Agustin Ramirez says, “When they told me what they were paid, I knew something was very wrong.”

Ramirez put them in touch with a lawyer, who sent ACI and Select a letter stating workers’ intention to file suit for back wages. In early February, 18 workers, including every person but one who’d signed, were told that Select had been audited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a year before. ICE, the company said, was questioning their immigration status.

Fighting back

Instead of quietly disappearing, though, about half the sorters walked off the lines on February 27, protesting the impending firings. They were joined by faith leaders, members of Alameda County United for Immigrant Rights, and workers from other recycling facilities, including WM. The next week, however, all eighteen accused of being undocumented were fired.

“Some of us have been there 14 years, so why now?” wondered sorter Ignacia Garcia. Despite fear ignited by the firings and the so-called “silent” immigration raid, workers began to join the union.

Within months, workers were wearing buttons and stickers up and down the sorting lines. At the same time, sorters went met with city council members, denouncing the raid and illegal wages, asking councilmembers to put pressure on the company processing their recyclables.

Organizing brings change

By the time Local 6 asked for the election, ACI had stopped campaigning against the union, likely out of a fear of alienating its city clients, and had ended its relationship with the temp agency. The class-action lawsuit filed by workers was also settled for $1.2 million.

When the Labor Board counted ballots from ACI workers on October 21, only one voted for no union while 49 cast ballots for the ILWU. A campaign by the Teamsters, who had secured a spot on the ballot, fell short with only 9 votes; probably because Teamsters Local 70 has represented ACI driver for decades, but was unable or unwilling to help recycling workers during that time.

Seeking help at city hall

Because cities award contracts for recycling services, they indirectly control how much money is available for workers’ wages. That’s taken the fight for more money and better conditions into city halls throughout the East Bay.

Waste Management has the Oakland city garbage contract, and garbage truck drivers have been Teamster members for decades. When WM took over Oakland’s recycling contract in 1991, however, it signed an agreement with ILWU Local 6. Workers had voted for Local 6 on the recycling lines, at the big garbage dump in the Altamont Pass and even among the clerical workers in the company office.


At WM, workers also faced immigration raids. In 1998, sorters at its San Leandro facility staged a wildcat work stoppage over safety issues, occupying the company’s lunchroom.

Three weeks later, immigration agents showed up, audited company records and eventually deported eight of them. And last year, three more workers were fired at WM, accused of not having legal immigration status.

ILWU solidarity

When Teamster drivers were locked out of WM in 2007 for more than a month over company demands for concessions, Local 6 members respected their lines and didn’t work. That was not reciprocated, however, when recyclers staged their walkouts over firings last year. Last week the Teamsters told drivers to cross Local 6 lines again. One unidentified Teamster officer told journalist Darwin Bond-Graham that Local 6 had not asked for strike sanction.

“Our members can’t just stop working,” he said.

In fact, Local 6 officers immediately sought sanction from the Teamster Joint Council but the request was ignored during the week-long strike. And instead of solidarity, Teamster officials directed members to drive through the recyclers’ picket lines.

Despite the hostility and indifference from Teamster officials, most drivers expressed support for the recyclers – along with regrets that their union officials had failed to respond with solidarity.

A number of drivers said they were planning to call-in sick instead of breaking the strike, and another larger group of drivers took up a collection that bought lunch for all the strikers.

An impressive gesture of solidarity also came from officials at SEIU Local 1021, who arrived at the picket line, rallied with strikers, provided lunch for everyone and pledged to provide additional resources.

Under the contract that expired three years ago, WM sorters got $12.50—more than ACI, but a long way from San Francisco and San Jose, where Teamster recyclers get $21 an hour. To get wages up, recycling workers in the East Bay organized a coalition to establish a new standard; the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling.

Community support

Two dozen organizations have joined the campaign in addition to the ILWU, including the Sierra Club, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Movement Generation, the Justice and Ecology Project, the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy and the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy (FAME). FAME leaders visited picket lines and held prayer sessions with workers during the strike.

San Francisco, where recyclers earn $21 per hour, is charging customers $34 per month for garbage and recycling service. East Bay companies are paying recyclers half that wage – while East Bay ratepayers still pay almost as much each month for their services.

A new pattern & standard

Fremont became the first test for the campaign’s strategy of encouraging cities to mandate wage increases for recyclers. Last December, the Fremont City Council passed a rate increase of one penny per day per household – with the condition that its recycler, BLT, agree to raises for workers. The union contract with BLT now mandates a wage of $14.59 per hour, rising to $20.94 in 2019 – plus affordable family health benefits.

Oakland then followed suit, requiring wage increases for sorters as part of its new residential recycling and garbage franchise agreements.

Those 10-20 year agreements were both originally going entirely to California Waste Solutions, but after WM threatened a suit and a ballot initiative, it recovered the garbage contract, which also includes some commercial recycling services.

The new Local 6 contract for WM recyclers, which ended the strike yesterday, follows the same pattern and was approved last summer by the Oakland City Council which required the recycling wage and benefit standard to be included in the City’s 2015 franchise agreement. The new ILWU/WM contract will provide workers with a signing bonus of $500 to $1,500, depending on seniority, to provide some retroactive compensation for working three years under an old contract with no raises All workers will get an immediate raise of $1.48 per hour, and another 50 cents on New Year’s.

Starting next July, wages will rise $1.39 per year until 2019, when the minimum wage for sorters will be $20.94. The strikers at WM ratified their new agreement by a 95% margin.

But the strike was about much more than money and benefits. It was initiated and led by recycling workers determined to push back against what they felt was second-class treatment by an arrogant company that used to take them for granted. They gained new confidence, developed new leadership and made important solidarity connections during their week. Despite the hardships and challenges that began each morning at 3:30 a.m., workers from ‑Alameda County Industries would come by to join the picket lines after their shift ended, offering help and support for the Waste Management strikers.

ILWU International President Bob McEllrath praised the recycling workers for their leadership and determination.

“By standing together on the picket line, these courageous workers showed all of us how to win with solidarity– even when some officials from other unions seemed more comfortable standing with management. The kind of unity and determination shown by recyclers is exactly what it takes to win against powerful employers in Alameda County – and all along the West Coast.”

Next up: ACI workers

Now that three Alameda County companies have agreed to provide the better wages and affordable health benefits defined by the Alameda County Recycling Worker Standard, the torch is being passed to workers at ACI so they can enjoy the same improvements. After WM workers voted by 95% to end their strike on the evening of October 30, and before adjourning to celebrate, they pledged to support the upcoming struggle by ACI workers for a similar contract that will include the Alameda County Recycling Worker Standard.

“We won our fight for fair raises and benefits, and now it’s our turn to help the workers at ACI win their fight” said recycler Maria Sanchez.

Categories: Unions

New Activists Report on TDU Convention

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:51

November 13, 2014: The TDU Convention in Cleveland last weekend drew a record number of new participants, who were able to link up with stewards, leaders, and concerned Teamsters from across North America.

Some of the new folks, like Jeff Williams, were experienced Teamsters but new to TDU and ready to take back our union.

"Meeting rank and file Teamsters and TDU members from across the country was terrific. Seeing Fred Zuckerman talking about building a coalition with other great leaders at the convention brought a tear to my eye. WE can take back our union!"

Jeff WilliamsLocal 89, LouisvilleHolland

Some were elected stewards aiming to gain new skills, like Kirk Sikora.

"Thanks to TDU for hosting such an eye opening convention. The workshops were highly interactive. The “Ask the Expert” session was tremendously useful. It was my first convention and I will be back."

Kirk SikoraLocal 327, NashvilleCassens Transport

Some were younger Teamsters –the future of our union -- like Imani Vidal.

"As an alternate shop steward, the TDU convention provided me with useful info and dialog. It gave me a boost for believing in the right to be treated as a human being in the workplace. It was a great bonding experience with folks from Local 804 and Teamsters nationwide. I recommend it to all Teamsters."

Imani VidalLocal 804, New YorkUPS

All of them left ready to build TDU and the movement for a new direction in our union. 

Issues: TDU
Categories: Labor News, Unions


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